Saturday, 17 August 2019
Car Made of Glass - Every Song is a Good Song.
Album: Every Song is a Good Song
Artist: Car Made of Glass
Label: Montgomery Street Records
Catalogue no: lola021
1. Running on a Discontinuous Circuit
2. The Road
3. Infant Mind
4. Experiments in Bluetooth Technology
5. Wind Brushes C
Judging by this, Fortuna, California five-piece Car Made of Glass have a very simple philosophy: if an object, process, or action can make a sound, it can be used to make music with. That idea is evidenced on this latest recording, listing as it does things like amplified glass, raw meat in scalding pan, light-switches, and straw and water, amongst other inventive uses of unusual instrumentation. And yes, this is another one of those exploratory journeys I sometimes make to the margins of the margins of the musical non-mainstream, as I believe everyone needs to stray outside their comfort zones on occasions.
You’ve probably guessed that this is a highly experimental suite of compositions, and you’d be right. Right from the off randomly bouncing beads of glass tinkle in scattershot fashion, crackling and reverberating like tiny little explosions, minute fireworks detonating into multitudinous colours and hues in a weeping, mournful sky. ‘The Road’ starts off sparklingly with individually-strummed acoustic guitar chords against a backdrop of dustiness, a quiet hot summer day on some long, lonely desert road, heat shimmer rising off the black-top, and the radio struggling to find a station. Static and voices, slide guitar, and the slow, ticking crackling of heat expansion underscore the vast empty spaces of this landscape, sweltering under a merciless sun. Then, finally, the colours leech out, and everything burns away into a blanket of white.
‘Infant Mind’ is a strange concoction, a splattering noisiness backing up a solo saxophone (I normally hate this instrument, but here it adds a wonderfully ghostly presence to the track) accompanied by piano tinkling and jazz drums. A late summer evening, the heat of the day cooling off, drinks under the stars, and flirtatious strangers. This has minute echoes of The Caretaker about it: perhaps a fractured memory of an evening long ago, when life was sweet and easy, things were perhaps simpler, and new possibilities seemed endless.
The next track, ‘Experiments in Bluetooth Technology’, is the loosest and most freeform of all the pieces on here, and does exactly what it says on the tin (to coin a phrase). Staccato blasts of random snippets of electronics, noise, music, and voices splash, crash, and dash, garnished with slabs of white noise, bleeps, squeaks, bells, rattlings, and all manner bits and bobs. It’s that radio still struggling to find a station with a clear and strong enough signal. It’s also alien in some inexplicable way, a glimpse of a world or environment that’s unfamiliar to most of us.
Distant creakings and scratchings open ‘Wind Brushes C’, sounds heard while one is half-asleep and still dreaming, a disorientating, confusing hypnogogic vision inspired by the real world. It’s infused with high summer heat and dust, and the skittering and chattering of chitin-shelled creatures scuttling around unseen in subterranean tunnels, their business unfathomable and secretive. More than that, the space is unending from horizon to horizon, with little to break up the monotony. The colours here are muted and sandy, with only the blue bowl above providing any distraction for the eye.
What this collection does particularly well is spark off images, painting vistas and panoramas with minute detail and their associated atmospheres. It focuses on the small within the large: we experience it on the human level, and yet it still tells us that we’re standing in an inhumanly flat and endless prospect, reducing us to nothing more than an insignificant mote. It’s humbling and terrifying: when faced with seemingly limitless horizons we retreat into ourselves, defocusing and magnifying what’s directly in front of us or on the ground.
It’s a distinctly accessible album – it’s not out and out avant-garde thrashings and bashings, or difficult for difficulty’s sake. While it’s not musical in the sense of having recognisable tunes or melody either, it is very musical in that it elicits moods and feelings, and inspires the imagination. I will definitely be listening to this one again – there’s just something sparkling winding its way through the veins of invention here, allied to a truthfulness and clarity, all facets that appeal to me.
Available as a limited (50 copies) CDr from either of these links:
Psymon Marshall 2019.